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Eating Jim Crow(ley): What the Cop Forgot to Say to Professor Gates

08/24/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

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What Sgt. James (Jim) Crowley meant to say to Professor Henry Louis Gates:

"Oh I am terribly sorry sir. We had received a phone call from a member of the public who thought that she was witnessing a break-in -- so that's the sole reason I was sent here.

Since I now understand that this is your own home, it is clear that while she presumably meant well, she actually made a dreadfully wrong assumption. And the police dispatcher was reacting to that.

I am pleased that I came here -- because if it had been a break-in it would have been my responsibility to protect your property.

But now that I understand that you are the home-owner -- and you were simply having trouble getting into your own home -- will you please accept my profuse apologies for my intrusion. And the apologies of the Cambridge Police Department for what has transpired to be an erroneous assumption.

You must be very tired after your ordeal and your travel today -- so I shall take my leave of you. I do understand your anger at being wrongly accused of being an intruder in your own home. If I was in your shoes I would be equally angry.

I hope that when you calm down from your quite understandable anger -- you will comprehend that the police department's action was simply us trying to protect your property.

While I hear that you think my assumption was based on your race, I strongly assure you that that was not the case. But if you wish to make a formal complaint about your belief -- you are of course at liberty to do so.

As you are very distressed -- I will write down my name and badge number for you.

Sir, I am going to leave now. Again my deepest apologies for the intrusion. And I wish you well."

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